(Above) Casey Stoner is on the gas in Indy. (Below) Nicky Hayden faired better than teammate Valentino Rossi but is still well off Stoner’s pace.
In spite of his negative comments about condition of the track surface Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner decimated the field and secured pole position for Sunday’s 28-lap MotoGP race. Stoner used his factory Honda RC212V to take his seventh pole of the season with a lap time of 1’38.850 (new track record). His time set late in the hour-long session was nearly a half second quicker than American rider Ben Spies.
“I’m very happy with pole here in Indy,” said Stoner. “The team have been doing a great job under difficult conditions this weekend, but the race is tomorrow and we will keep working right up until the last moment to try and get the set up right. Obviously without the bumps from previous years the track is performing a lot better, but the lack of consistency in the grip levels are causing issues, everyone is loosing the front and it doesn’t give you a lot of confidence, when you hit these patches the bike just seems to drop away from you.”
Third fastest on the day was Spies’ factory Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Said Lorenzo, “Qualifying was much better than the other three practices so far this weekend. I improved a lot and had a lot more confidence with the front, we changed one bike completely which worked. We are much more confident for tomorrow now. I would like to be closer to Casey, but seven tenths is better than one second and a half. It’s going to be a very tough race for everybody.”
Ducati’s Valentino Rossi crashed out early in the session when he lost front tire traction during corner entry. He was uninjured in the smash and was back out on track aboard his back-up machine. The multi-time World Champ floundered for the rest of the session some two-plus seconds behind pole sitter Stoner.
“We took a nice step forward this morning that we hoped to confirm in qualifying,” said Rossi. “Instead I fell right away. We really could have done without that crash, but the front closed right when I touched the brake. From there, the whole session was difficult because the second bike had a slightly different setup. I lost one pair of new tyres and I had to start with a set of used ones. I wasn’t able to get back the feeling from this morning, when the bike felt better and I could push harder.”
The second factory Ducati of Nicky Hayden faired better finishing eighth but still well behind the guys up front.
“Compared to yesterday, we had wanted to take a step forward in qualifying, but I got a bit confused this morning, and my feedback to the team wasn’t as good as it should have been,” said Hayden. “This bike is new for us, and we still need more experience with it. Anyway, we still salvaged the third row in the end, which is better than I was.”
Both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso put in solid performances finishing fourth and fifth fastest, respectively. But unless they get another gear it will be hard for them to finish on the podium barring no accidents from the top-three riders. Hot on the heels of the Repsol Honda riders was American Colin Edwards followed by Italian wild man Marco Simoncelli. Edwards’ teammate Cal Crutchlow did well and was just over a half a second slower than him. Keep in mind that this is the first-time the English rider has ridden at The Brickyard. He also had a tip-over late in the session but was injured.
Indianapolis MotoGP Qualifying Results:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’38.850
2. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’39.373
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’39.629
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’39.947
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’40.024
6. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’40.098
7. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’40.204
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’40.244
9. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1’40.333
10. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’40.360
11. Cal Cruthlow (Yamaha) 1’40.620
12. Randy De Puniet (Ducati) 1’40.815
13. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’40.925
14. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’40.975
15. Toni Elias (Honda) 1’41.030
16. Karl Abraham (Ducati) 1’41.085
17. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’41.092